A Weekly DIGEST for teachers and staff who want to level-up support and funding for MANAGEMENT OF their SCHOOL theatre. 

Issue 37, 2023


Come backstage, and you'll see:

  • Techie Tip of the Week (editorial)
  • Leveling-Up (essential online courses)
  • Dear Techie (advice column)
  • Techie Travesties (funnies)

Join in the conversation


Techie Tip of the Week


EVERY event, no matter how small or large, and whether a school, district or outside event, should have a Production Meeting.  Most outside events expect this, but some teachers just using the theatre for one evening, say a concert or presentation may balk.  But once they have their event and it goes smoothly for the first time, they will be on board. 

The purpose of the Production Meeting is to discuss concepts and practicalities for the show, and to go over in detail at least the following items:

• their tech needs; the practicalities of how the set, lights, sound and rigging will work together, and any specific requirements they have in any of those areas,

• their schedule, 

• their expectations, 

• your expectations, 

• and any other details you need to know in order to make their show successful.

Always hold the Production Meeting in your theatre.  It may be more inconvenient for an event organizer than for you, however if questions come up you can easily demonstrate or walk them around to help solve an issue. You may need to show them some equipment, or you may need to show them where a certain drape falls and how much space they have on stage.  Some people have a hard time visualizing what you may be saying, so this is the best way to avoid misunderstandings.  It’s also essential for a group who has not used your theatre before to have the “Grand Tour”.  Ideally though, they have come for a prior Site Visit with you before committing to a booking.

Depending on the event – from a full length school play to a variety show to a lecture – you should request that the following people be present at the Production Meeting (as applicable).  

• The person in charge of the event.

• The Stage Manager – in particular, the person who will be calling the show, if it’s not one of your technicians.

• The Assistant SM – in particular, the person who will be heading the backstage crew, again if it’s not one of your technicians. 

• The Producer (if the event has one?)

• The design team:  lighting designer, sound designer, set designer, costume designer

• Any additional student crew members who you feel would benefit from being involved in the process.

• Student organizers, if it’s a student-run production (their supervising teacher should be there too).

It’s particularly important to let non-theatre people know why you need a Production Meeting.  In the past I’ve worked with teachers who wanted to have everyone arrive at 6:30 for a 7:00 show.  They figured their students had been rehearsing and were ready to go.  They did not, at the time, realize the amount of technical preparation that has to go into their show.  

Who you request be present from this list will be dependent on the complexity of the event.  Sometimes it may just be the person in charge of the event – that may be all that is feasible, and that may be all that is necessary for some events.  It’s particularly valuable, if it’s a show or event with students involved to bring the key students to the Production Meeting.  Students often have valuable input and really benefit from being involved in the planning process – something they will encounter later on in ‘real life’ if they ever have to arrange a company event or give a presentation, etc.

This editorial is the express opinion of Beth Rand, and is not intended for substitution for professional advice regarding your specific situation or circumstances.


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Dear Techie

Dear Techie,

Our auditorium is in need of some technical upgrades. We're gathering information to make decisions about what to purchase. One thing we would like to add for the spring musical in April is a muslin cyc curtain and some instruments to light it. We’re wondering about LED instruments. What do you think?

Cyc’d in NJ

Dear Cyc'd,

First, you didn’t mention what type of light board you have – will it accommodate the control needed for LEDs? 

I can’t recommend any specific instruments, as there are so many out there, but if you do go with LED cycs, I’ve had great luck with ShowBabys, which allow for wireless connections. Great for upgrading lighting systems more cheaply. You probably won’t be moving your cyc lights around much once they’re hung, but I once worked in a high school theatre that would periodically move their cyc from behind the 3rd electric to behind the 4th electric, depending on the event, and of course the cyc lights had to be moved too. So think ahead about versatility. 

State-of-the-art may or may not be your best choice, depending on how your theatre is operated and staffed. LED cyc lights can certainly make your cyc ‘pop’ (love those LED cycs!), but another thing to consider is the level of technical experience of the person running your theatre, and what the theatre is used for –what sort of events and how many per year? Do the events need to be run manually 'on the fly',or will all the events have tech rehearsals allowing for cues to be set?  Here’s some questions to consider before making your decision, regarding installing LED cyc lighting vs conventional cyc lighting.

What is the extent of your experience with lighting?
How many students a year will want to learn to be lighting technicians?
Will you or a colleague be providing vocational training for students?
Will students be running the lights for your shows, and will it always be the same student(s)?
Will the theatre be primarily used by students who come and go every few years?
Will the theatre be staffed by professional technicians?
Will the technicians who run the theatre mentor the new students each year?
Will the theatre be rented to outside users?
Who will staff outside events, professional staff or students, or the Drama teacher?
Will outside users be expected to be able to run the LED lights from the board?
Will outside users be permitted to use the theatre’s equipment unsupervised?
Who will restore all the equipment settings back to a neutral Rep Plot setting each time in preparation for the next user (be they school, district or outside) should the LED instruments be moved?

Submit your Dear Techie questions to [email protected].  


Techie Travesties

"I went to the theatre last night but had to leave after Act I."
"Why was that?"
"Well, the program said 'Act II - one year later', and I couldn't wait."

Submit your Bad Theatre Joke or Funnies to [email protected].

And finally, always remember....

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Why the name Cue3Go?  Because often times (not always, of course) in a show, Cue 1 is house-to-half, Cue 2 is blackout, and Cue 3 is lights up!  We hope this newsletter will light you up each week with ideas and actions for managing your high school theatre.

It is PRESETT's mission to provide information to assist in endeavors for safe and functional operations of school theatres. However, PRESETT is not a safety consultant or professional, and any information provided or advocated is not intended to supplement, not supersede, industry safety training. Always consult a theatre safety specialist about your specific situation or circumstances.

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